Penultimate Sunday of the church year
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.Â 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 toward love and good deeds
I wonder, should I say this, or should I not? Do I doubt the truth of God, or do I trust Him because He has proved faithful? Well I am going to say this, and Iâ€™m throwing my lot in with Christ. You know what Jesus did for you 2000yrs ago, and what God has continued to do for you in this life. Do you hold tight to Him, to The confession of Truth, or do you hold it loosely, ready to hide your convictions or even ready to let go? Are we afraid to ask God for His help, are we unsure that He does love and care for us? Maybe we think that our sins and failures are too great for God to forgive, that He has given up on us, or even that we have to make it up to God Almighty, creator of all, and weâ€™ll wait a day or two to speak with Him again.
But God has not promised you that He rejects those who fail and sin, He has not even told you to offer sacrifices to pay for those failings. In fact He tells us that there is nothing we can do, those animal sacrifices of the Old covenant could not wash away all your sins. God has promised you that Christâ€™s sacrifice, His life, death, resurrection and ascension, has completed you who are being made holy, even from that prophesy of the New Covenant through Jeremiah, He remembers your sins and lawless deeds no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Because of Jesus you, and all Christians, can enter into Godâ€™s presence, joined together as one body, even the body of Christ. We have been assured of this forgiveness and of the holiness and goodness, righteousness we receive from God. God has promised us and He is faithful, He tells us that through baptism you are forgiven Acts 2:38; you are adopted Galatians 3:26-27; you are part of the body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:13; joined with Christ in His death, and so also in His newness of life and ultimately His resurrection Romans 6:3-11 (Titus 3:4-7). These wonderful and awesome promises God Almighty has given to you through something as mundane as washing with water. Of course, itâ€™s not the water that saves, itâ€™s Godâ€™s Word and promise; but by Godâ€™s marvellous grace Heâ€™s given us something simple to assure us, that no one can take away and that we can easily grasp. Baptism, and your hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and your body washed with the pure water.
So let us hold tight to Godâ€™s Word, His promises, to Jesus the truth, hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. You know the truth of this world, how it really is and what things are really about. God tells us. He tells us who we truly are, what you have done, your helplessness and the help, salvation and renewed life that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, gives to you. And here the letter to the Hebrews tells us to hold fast to those words that we say together, when we say â€˜Jesus is Lordâ€™ (1 Corinthians 12:3), when we confess the ecumenical creeds, when we agree with God and proclaim the truth He has spoken, â€œChrist Jesus came into the world to save sinnersâ€ (1 Timothy 1:15) and I am one (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:3) Saved and purified by the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:2-6; 1 John 1:7) now waiting for His return and the full realisation of our new life with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21-22). That is our confession of hope, in a nut shell.
And holding fast to that nut, what do we do now? Just leave that good news on the mantelpiece to gather dust? No! You throw that walnut at your brother and tell him to do good! Here we are told to provoke each other to love and good work, just like my older brother used to provoke me to hit him, but itâ€™d be good things not hitting people. We are also told to not give up on each other, but to be called alongside each other, to be the Holy Spirit to one another, encouraging, admonishing, helping and comforting each other, to point to Jesus and what He has done for us, for you. And this so much more as Christâ€™s return gets closer.
Pastor Joseph Graham