“19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
One may ask why I have been harping so much on the salvation that we have in Jesus and constantly repeating that Jesus is the only One—repeating that Jesus is all anyone who has ever entered Heaven has ever had. There is no other way. You may look back at the last few months of lessons and wonder if I am like an old stuck record. Some of you will have to Google a picture of a stuck record. But one of the great warnings that Jesus gave us in Matthew 24, not once but three times, is to not allow ourselves to be deceived.
I recently saw a short video clip about what percentage of churches are actively teaching the absolute truths of the scriptures. It was shocking to watch, frankly. There are churches on every corner in many towns and cities in North America. I live in a small town of 6,000 or so, and we have about 10 churches. The video discussed how only about 30% of churches even believe the fundamental truths that the Bible teaches. Doctrines like the virgin birth of Jesus, that Jesus was actually 100% God, that He died and rose from the dead. Doctrines like seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, like marriage is between a man and a woman, and that there is a literal Hell.
These doctrines are actually only believed by about 30% of churches in the USA ( I would think the ratios are similar in Canada). But what really got me was that upon further investigation, they found that only about 2% of churches actually taught these doctrines. That really hit me. But this is why I harp on these fundamental truths; this is why we must repeat that Jesus is the way, the only way to be saved.
- Hold fast to the Confession of our Faith, verse 23
The phrase ‘hold fast’ is a military command. When ordered, the soldiers know that they are to hold a position until death if necessary. There are countless stories of brave soldiers holding fast to an entry point to a base or fort and paying the ultimate price with their lives. The writers of Hebrews tell us to ‘hold fast’; don’t back up, don’t let the enemy through, and keep fighting until death if necessary.
There is this ‘inclusive’ push in many churches to make the Gospel more palatable to the masses. There is no talk of repentance and being sorry for our sins, no call to shame for the sin that caused Jesus’ death. No understanding that it was my sin and their sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. Just call on Jesus, and He will save you. The thief on the cross acknowledged his sin; he agreed that he deserved to be there on his cross being punished, then he called on Jesus to save him. Jesus immediately saved him, no questions asked. But the man repented at that moment and was sorry for his sin. Too many churches no longer call sin, sin. The drive to get seats in the pews is more important than the truth. More important than Jesus’ death.
Many no longer teach the truth, making the excuse that Jesus’ death was barbaric and cruel. Yes, it was; that was the point. God HATES sin, and He poured out His wrath on Jesus instead of on you and me. But the writer tells us to ‘hold fast,’ stand and speak the truth. Don’t shut up, don’t be quiet, and don’t water down the truth. Speak in love, BUT speak the truth about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; someone needs to hear it, and like the thief on the cross, they can call on Jesus and be saved.
- Make Assembly a Priority, verse 25
The word church comes from a Greek word meaning ‘an assembly out from within a city.’ Each church is a local body; thus, we have letters in the New Testament written to specific churches in specific locations. Jesus began the assembly long before the day of Pentecost when He called out several men to ‘follow Him.’ These men and some ladies ‘assembled’ in various locations, they were taught the truths of the scriptures, and then they went about teaching and preaching even before Jesus left to go home. Many people think that the church was born on the day of Pentecost, but Jesus breathed into them the Holy Spirit as they assembled in John 20: 21-22.
“Again, Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.’ 22 When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
You and I need to be assembled with men and women who know the truth, stand for the truth, speak the truth, and hold to Jesus as the only means of salvation. And the writer tells us that as we get closer and closer to the return of Jesus, this will become more and more important. We need to find Godly churches that put Jesus first and recognize Him as the Head, not the pastor. We need churches that make the Gospel and its purity a priority. We need churches that teach the whole Bible and still believe in its infallibility.
We need churches that understand that God is gracious; yes, He is, but He is also Holy. The same God that sent Jesus to save me killed the whole world in a flood, except for 8 people in the ark. The same God that passed over the blood-covered doors in the Israelite section of Egypt killed all of the firstborns of Egypt.
We need churches, assemblies that still stand for the Gospel, preach the pure Gospel, and where people who believe these truths can find like-minded people with whom to praise the Lord and celebrate His salvation, giving Him all the glory. I pray that you are a part of this kind of church, one that is eagerly warning people that Jesus is coming soon. Hold fast; our redemption is very, very near.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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