Here are 5 Key Connections from recent Christian articles around the web, including one on what Hagar's life can teach us today, and another on the surprising places of discipleship. Three Glimpses of God's Love Seen in Hagar's Life (Colin Smith, Unlocking the Bible) Living in the tension of a...
And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end. (Hebrews 6:11)
God does not want you to live in constant doubt over your true spiritual position. He does not want you to wait until the end of your life to have the peace and joy of knowing that you belong to him. God wants you to have this full assurance now, and for you to continue enjoying it until the end.
So how can you get this assurance, this confidence and peace throughout your Christian journey? How can you pursue the peace and joy that come from knowing that Christ is yours and you are his forever?
1. A life to pursue
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10)
Remember, the issue that is being dealt with here is not “How can I be saved?” But, “How can I be sure?” Christian, your work and your love play no part in making you right with God (Ephesians 2:8-9), but they are of huge importance when it comes to assurance.
There are certain evidences that a person is a Christian. Here, for example, Hebrews talks about: “The love that you have shown… in serving the saints” (Hebrews 6:10).
You love other Christians. You serve them. And you do this “for his name” (Hebrews 6:10). So not only do you love other believers, but you love other believers because you love the Lord.
And there are many more distinguishing marks of a genuine Christian in the New Testament:
Are you seeking to follow Christ?
You must be one of Christ’s sheep, because he says, “My sheep follow me… and they shall never perish” (John 10:27, 28).
Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ?
The life of Christ must be in you, because Scripture says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14).
Are you seeking to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord?
You must have come to know him, because Scripture says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).
Do you see fruit in your life?
You might look at these examples, saying: “I’m not sure this is going to help me. I’ve got a long way to God in keeping God’s commandments. I love other Christians, but probably not as much as I should.”
Now, you may not be able to see any of these marks to the degree that you would like to in your life. But if you can find even one of them, you have reason to say, “By God’s grace, I have reason to believe that I too am one of Christ’s sheep.”
Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). How many blackberries do you need to find before you can say with confidence “This is a blackberry bush?” It’s not a hundred. You pull a blackberry off the bush, and say, “This looks like a blackberry bush.”
2. A promise to believe
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” (Hebrews 6:13-14)
We are not talking about the promises of God in general, of which there are many, but about one great promise. God said to Abraham, “I will surely bless you,” and “in your offspring, [singular, a reference to Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:17, 18).
So, this promise was not only for Abraham, it was also for us, “the heirs of the promise” (Hebrews 6:17). All who believe in Christ are heirs of the blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18).
Are you blessed? One of the residues of our fallenness is that even when we hear about the blessing of God in Jesus Christ, we suspect that he might have it in for us in the end. But God wants us to have full assurance.
God wants you to be convinced, assured, completely confident that his unchanging purpose is to bless you. So here is what God did: “He guaranteed it with an oath” (Hebrews 6:17).
When God took an oath, he put himself on the line for this promise. He said, in effect, “Let me fall under my own judgment if I do not bless you!” Then, in Jesus Christ, God placed himself under his own judgment so that the blessing he promised would become ours!
Jesus Christ is the oath. Jesus Christ fulfilled the oath. And, Jesus Christ is the guarantee of God’s promise. In him, we can be sure of the blessing of God forever.
3. An anchor that holds
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… (Hebrews 6:19-20)
Believers are called to “hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18). We hold fast to Jesus Christ by trusting in, standing on, holding to the unchanging promise and purpose of God to bless us in Jesus Christ.
We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, hold fast to him, and believe the promise because God sealed it by giving his Son.
But now the writer speaks about Jesus as our “sure and steadfast anchor.” An anchor is not something that you hold.
If you were to go out on Lake Michigan and see a man standing on the bow of a 46-foot yacht with a chain in his hand, and he told you that he was holding onto the anchor, you would say:
“Why are you holding the anchor? Isn’t that the point of the anchor to hold you?”
So yes, you are to hold fast in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, the hope set before you. But remember, as you hold onto Jesus, that he is the anchor that holds onto you.
When an anchor goes down into the water it is hidden from view. It goes down into the depths. You cannot see it, but it holds you.
Jesus is hidden from our view, not because he is down in the depths, but because he has ascended to the highest place. This is a gravity-defying anchor!
Jesus Christ anchors you to heaven. He is already there. The Christ, who died to save you, lives to keep you. In Christ, your entrance into heaven is as sure as the reality that he is already there because he is your anchor.
We hold fast to the hope set before us, knowing that Jesus Christ holds fast to us.