By Aaron Berry, Crosswalk.com
How do I respond to what Jesus has done for me? It truly is an appropriate question to ask, especially when we consider the magnitude of selfless love that Christ displayed on the cross. In fact, Christ’s work not only prompts a response, it demands one.
But how exactly should I respond? Do I work to earn his favor? Do I seek to prove that I’m worth the sacrifice?
No. Scripture demands a response, but not of legalism or self-righteousness. It demands a response marked by fellowship, confidence, and community. And there’s no better place to read about our response to Jesus than Hebrews 10.
In Hebrews 10:1-19, we see the limited and temporal nature of the Old Testament sacrifices in contrast to the splendor and finality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The law was “but a shadow of the good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1), the frequent sacrifices could never “make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 10:1), and the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).
Enter Jesus Christ.
The one who “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12), and by this single sacrifice, “he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). It is because of his once-for-all death that we can confidently enter God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19). He creates, as we read in Hebrews 10:20, “the new and living way.” And this “way” is Jesus himself—his blood (Hebrews 10:19); and his flesh (Hebrews 10:20).
He is “the” way, not “a” way. No one comes to the Father except by the blood of Jesus.
He is the “new” way. Access to God is no longer divided by a veil in the temple, countless bloody sacrifices, or priests. We now have direct access to the Father through Christ.
He is the “living” way. He conquered death and now lives to intercede for us and give us grace in time of need. He is our eternal High Priest.
How do we respond to this Jesus?
Hebrews 19-21 provides the basis (“since we have confidence to enter…”, “since we have a great high priest.”). Hebrews 10:22-24 give three “let us” phrases—three invitations to respond to Jesus, our “new and living way.”
1. Come Close: Let us draw near to God.
What keeps you from enjoying close fellowship with Christ? It could be a whole host of things: Doubt, shame, fear, guilt. We are painfully aware of our own sins and we feel as if we can’t even look up to heaven, let alone boldly come into his presence.
You may look at this verse and wish. I wish I had full assurance. I wish I had a clean conscience. I wish I was free from guilt. Perhaps you think that it’s all up to you to achieve this access, to work harder, to do better.
But it’s not up to you. You can’t earn access to God. Jesus earned it for you.
Those who place their faith in Christ’s death and resurrection are cleansed and washed. Hebrews 10:22 doesn’t tell you to cleanse your own conscience or wash yourself. Only the blood of Christ will “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14 ESV).
Simply repent and believe, and your conscience will be cleansed, your life will be washed, and the new and living way will be opened up to you—free of charge. So Christian, be comforted that nothing can separate you from Christ.
Let us draw near, free of doubt, shame, fear, and guilt.
2. Hold Fast: Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23 ESV
But our response to Jesus isn’t simply to get a “ticket into heaven.” It’s not a one-and-done decision with no ramifications on your life. Through Christ, we can draw near; now let us “hold fast.”
Once you have tasted life itself, why would you want anything else? Cling tightly to the truth. Do you find yourself wavering between the truth of God’s Word and the vain philosophies of the world? Or do you say with the Apostle Peter, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)?
How are we to hold fast to our confession without wavering? Is it up to us to maintain our salvation?
No. Just as the invitation to “draw near” is based on Christ’s work and not ours, the invitation to “hold fast” is rooted in God’s faithfulness, not ours (“for he who promised is faithful”). As we hold fast to the faithful promises of God, the allure of the world will fade away. Through Christ’s new and living way, come close and hold fast.
Eternal hope is only found in Christ.
3. Reach Out: Let us consider one another.
“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.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
There’s one more invitation. You’re drawing near, you’re holding fast, now look around you. You’re not the only one Jesus died for. There are others who have been saved by the blood of Christ, who also have entered through the new and living way. And we are called to reach out, to stir each other up, and encourage each other.
After all, you know what it’s like to struggle with doubt and shame and guilt and fear. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling, too. You need to remind them to draw near. You know what it’s like to waver in your confidence, to be allured by the enticements of the world. Your brothers and sisters in Christ feel it, too. They need you to encourage them to hold fast.
Christian, you are not an island. You can’t say that you are clinging to Christ if you are not connected to his Body, the Church. Are you neglecting to meet together (Hebrews 10:25)?
If you have truly tasted the liberating joy of life in Christ, if you have truly experienced the bedrock confidence of God’s faithfulness, why keep it to yourself? Why turn a blind eye from other Christians who need the encouragement, comfort, and exhortation that you can give?
Come close. Hold Fast. Reach Out.
This is how we are called to respond to Jesus. How are you responding to Him? Are you trying to come to God on your own terms? If so, I understand why you’re struggling with the guilt, anxiety, and shame that fills the hearts of those who haven’t experienced the “new and living way.”
But the invitation is open to you. Christ has made the way for you to draw near to him, to hold fast to him, and to do it alongside other believers who can stir you up and push you forward.
Aaron Berry is a co-author for the Pursuing the Pursuer Blog. You can read more articles from Aaron and his colleagues by subscribing to their blog or following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Aaron currently resides in Allen Park, MI with his wife and two children, where he serves in his local church and recently completed an MDiv degree at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.
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