Get Ready to Stir (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Topic: Hebrews Passage: Hebrews 10:19–10:25
Reset: Back to the Basics of Our One Mission
Get Ready to Stir
(One Mission: I am Not Ashamed)
February 22nd, 2015
I. Reset Review
If you are a follower of Jesus, then as we've already seen this month, you have an amazing purpose. You have been called, just as the first disciples were called, you have been called to fish. Through us, God wants to draw others into His nets. But these aren't nets that lead to death, as is the case with real fish. God draws us to life. And wonderfully, He wants to draw others to this eternal life through us.
You may remember that we began this study by laying out three biblical truths about what it means to follow Jesus. Here they are again:
1. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets by fulfilling the Great Commands.
2. Jesus fulfilled these Great Commands as He fulfilled God's mission.
3. Jesus continues to fulfill God's mission through His fullness in the Church.
So based on this, we were able to develop a purpose statement in terms of each of our lives, for anyone who follows Jesus: The purpose of your life is to obey the Great Commands as you carry out the mission of God.
Remember what this means. It means the trajectory of your life is first and foremost and forever...God. God has loved you with an everlasting love in order that you would love Him forever. That should be our chief pursuit in this life: to love God with everything we are, every fiber of our being, every thought, every desire, every ounce, for Him.
But Jesus made it clear that if we truly do love God with our all, that we will also love all with God's love. When you love God you love what He loves. Therefore, each of us has been called to love our neighbor as ourself. But who is my neighbor? Well, we know from God's word that we have been called to love without exception, whether that's our fellow disciples, our brother or sister in Christ, OR, that's our unbelieving co-worker or family member.
You may remember this analogy from our first lesson: life is like a race. The Great Commands are like the principles of running. But where are we to run? Well, the mission of God is like the track. You can know everything about racing, about the regulations, about the right techniques, about the history of the sport and the best shoes to wear. But without a track, you'll never win the prize. You need both: how to run and where to run.
This mission of God is our course. It's where Jesus ran, and it's where He continues to run through us. Without a clear idea of this One Mission, we will struggle as One Body, because God's One Truth has become muddled, and thus we will fail to reflect our One Lord. But as we will see this morning, God has another encouragement for us when it comes to this One Mission, the Mission to which each of us has been called.
II. The Passage: “How to Stir Up One Another” (10:19-25)
Turn with me to Hebrews 10. Let's keep in mind what we've already talked about as we look together at verse 24.
A. Two Dishes for Our One Mission (v. 24)
This is what we read in verse 24:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...
Right away two items from this verse should jump out at us: “love” and “good works”. These are two of the critical components we've talked about in this series. The term “love” should remind us of the Great Commands, especially in this context, the seconf of the Great Commands, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. A few chapters earlier, the author affirmed this very thing in terms of their love for one another...
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)
The phrase “good works” in 10:24 should remind us of a critical way in which we demonstrate our love for those around us. You may recall how Paul called God's people to “good works” five times in Titus chapters 2 and 3. Along with an obedient life (love for God), these “good works” (love for neighbor) are two of the primary ways in which God uses your life to provoke questions, generate conversations, and open doors for the sake of the gospel. And as we talked about last week, we need to be prepared to speak about our faith when God gives us any of those opportunities.
So very clearly, if you are a follower of Jesus, these two dishes need to be on the menu of your life. And just as you would find in any kitchen, part of the way God prepares these dishes is by using other Christians to “stir” us up.
B. Three Ingredients for Our Two Dishes (vs. 19-23, 25)
But to better understand this concept of being stirred up, I want us to see how the context of verse 24 actually reveals three ingredients that God wants to use as He prepares these two dishes in your life. So here's what we discover...
1. Ingredient #1: Your Advocate (19-21)
First of all, look with me at verses 19-21:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God...
For two chapters the writer of Hebrews has been explaining how Jesus has fulfilled all the ritual and symbolism of the OT Temple. It was the blood of the Lamb of God that made perfect atonement. Just as Jesus' flesh was torn on the cross, so too, through His death, the veil of the Jerusalem Temple was torn, a picture of the access we know have into the holy places of God's presence.
And as verse 21 confirms, amazingly, Jesus was both sacrifice and priest. But he is not like any earthly priest. Starting way back at the end of chapter 4, the author has spent seven chapters describing how Jesus is the perfect and final priest. He is your heavenly Advocate. Isn't it wonderful to know you have a perfect priest, an incomparable interecessor, a mighty mediator who is always standing for you in the presence of God?
But wait. How does that reality affect the “love” and “good works” to which we are called? Well, that's where the next ingredient comes in. In reminded in verses 22 and 23 of...
2. Ingredient #2: Your Assurance (22, 23)
Listen to how the writer continues:
[since we have this perfect priest] ...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
The writer already mentioned the word “confidence” in verse 19, but in these verses he really expands on the idea of how the reality of Jesus and His work as your perfect priest, how that reality should affect us. What should grow inside us, in the soil of Christ's work and God's faithfulness? Verse 22: “Full assurance of faith”. And that assurance should lead us to “draw near” to God in prayer and to “holding fast”, to perseverance in the face of challenges.
Verse 22 also reveals that the priestly work of Jesus also cleanses us from an evil conscience, that is, a conscience that is twisted and insensitive to what is truly right and wrong.
So think for a minute about all this in light of the “love” and “good works” to which we are called. The privilege of prayer that is now ours, the perseverance that is now possible, the inner purity you can experience because of Christ, those are all crucial elements when it comes to loving and serving those around us. Are you praying boldly for those in your circle? Are you standing firm in the face of indifference or opposition? Are you allowing God to fill your cleansed heart with genuine compassion for those around you?
But our Advocate and our assurance are also important in light of the last ingredient.
3. Ingredient #3: Your Assembly (v. 25)
Let's look at verses 24 and 25 together. This is what we read...
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.
When you think about the mission of God being carried out through you, in your circle, it's very easy to feel overwhelmed; it's easy to feel like you are going alone into that harvest field. But you aren't. First of all, as we've already seen, you go with a priest on your side, that “great high priest” who is “over the house of God”. But as we see here, God also wants to use each of us in one another's lives as we carry out the mission of God.
Look at how ingredient #3 itself includes three related, but distinct elements:
First, we are called to “consider how to stir up one another”. This word “stir up” is an interesting word in the orginal language, translated countless ways in different translations: provoke, promote, motivate, spur on, stimulate, excite. In fact, the only other place where it is used in the NT is in Acts 15, where a disagreement, a contention arose between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Whether positive or negative, the common idea is something sharp that either spurs on or provoke.
God is telling us here that we need to think very carefully about how we can do that to one another in regard to “love and good works”.
Second, in a related idea, we see at the end of verse 25 that God wants us to “encourage one another”. As we stir each other up to action in light of our Advocate and our assurance, we also need to encourage one another to “hold fast without wavering” when the work gets hard, when the days get long, when a harvest seems hopeless.
But third, none of this happens if (v. 25) we are “neglecting to meet together”. If we have not done so already, we need to make room in our lives for our brothers and sisters. Now, this is the verse we are quick to quote when people have a poor attendance record on Sunday mornings. And while I do think the verse does speak to that issue, even the most faithful attender is also missing the point if he or she is not being stirred up for action and encouraged by their interactions with God's people, whether on Sunday or any other day.
III. What Should Change?
As we pull back and consider what God is showing us here, ask yourself this question: “While everything I've been learning has been challenging me individually in terms of following Jesus and my individual circle of relationships, how should all of this affect our life together as a church family?” If we fully embrace this One Mission, what should change about our Sunday Gatherings? What should change about our Growth Groups? What should change about our events, about our finances, about the way we take our communal temperature (i.e. how we think about our healthiness)? What should change about our everyday interactions with one another, whether planned or unplanned? What should change?
Well, I think we will only discover many of the answers to those questions over time, as we put one foot in front of the other, day by day, striving to obey the Great Commands as we carry out the mission of God.
But I do want to leave you with three ideas, three principles I hope we will prayerfully adopt in terms of our convictions about and commitments to the family of God. First of all, we should...
1. Fellowship as those mindful of the mission.
The English word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word koinania, which is a word better translated as and often translated as “partnership”. And when we, as 21st Century Christians, think of the words “fellowship” and “partnership”, we know there is a difference between the two. When we use the word “fellowship”, we need to reclaim that sense of laboring together toward a common goal.
If we were all soldiers in a platoon on the eve of or in the midst of a great battle, we would be mindful of how our fellow soldiers need to be encouraged and spurred on, right? This is what the writer of Hebrews has in mind in v. 24. He wants these believers to come together with a thoughtful and purposeful attitude in regard to stirring one another up. When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he also wanted the church in Ephesus to understand the importance of viewing their life together in light of the testimony of truth to a lost world.
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that,  if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (I Timothy 3:14-15)
Paul understood it was the task of the church to promote and protect the truth. When you gather with brothers and sisters, are you thinking about how to encourage them in light of their mission, our mission? (share one example of resource: 10-24 Group on Facebook). But we also need to...
2. Hear as those eager to be equipped.
In a second letter, Paul also reminded Timothy about our need for God's word. He wrote...
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
As you read and study on your own, as you study in a Growth Group, as you sit here on Sundays and hear the word of God, you should be asking yourself these questions in light of what we've been learning: “How will what I'm learning help me to love God will all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind? How will what I'm learning help me to love my neighbor as myself? How will what I'm learning help me to carry out the mission of God in my circle?”
Through His word, God wants to train you for righteousness. Through His word, God wants to equip you for “every good work”. Are we listening with those kinds of ears? Finally, in light of everything we've been learning in this series, as we think about how these things should affect our life together, I think, third, we need to...
3. Celebrate as those hungry for the harvest.
Think about the things you celebrate: birthday, anniversary, promotion, a new baby, graduation. But also think about the things we celebrate as a church family: Christmas, Easter, a new baby, our children, baptisms. Listen to what Jesus said in light of a parable about a shepherd finding his lost sheep. He said...
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
Way of Grace, more and more, we need to, as a church family, we need to celebrate any and every victory in regard to God's mission. Not only do we need to join the heavenly celebration over a “sinner who repents”, but we also need to celebrate all the pieces that came together or might be coming together to bring a person to Christ. We need to celebrate new opportunities in regard to our circles. We need to celebrate answered prayers in regard to our circles. We need to celebrate new people who have come into our circles.
If the mission of God is the track on which we are running, then what inspires us to rejoice should be related to how God is at work as we run that course. I will look for ways for us to do that, even on Sunday mornings. But I want to encourage you to look for ways to do that with one another as well.
Brothers and sisters, we need a “hard reset”, don't we? It's very easy to get comfortable as Christians. It's very easy to accept a counterfeit discipleship, a pattern of following Jesus that is safe. But God has wonderful things for us. He wants to grow us in the trenches. He wants us to rely on the Holy Spirit as we come to the end of ourselves. He wants us to have a front row seat on His amazing work in the lives of others.
We have been called to One Mission. And because Jesus was sent to us, we can be sent for Jesus. Because He emptied Himself on the cross to give us new life, we can empty ourselves for those who still need new life. Are you ready? Is God resetting you even now?
Turn three chapters forward to Hebrews 13. Let's finish with this beautiful blessing that brings together everything we've been talking about today. Verses 20 and 21...
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)