"By two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world may have a source of strength, and may grasp the hope that he holds out to us. This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very certainty of God himself in Heaven, where Jesus has already entered on our behalf, having become, as we have seen, 'High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.'" Hebrews 6:18-20
Let me do my best to paint the picture of what is being said here. Jesus, the Word and Oath of God incarnate, having lived and died for our sakes, tore the curtain between God and men, men and God, forever. Then, in rising from the dead, He showed us the unending power of the new and resurrected life that is now ours, and, in ascending to the Father, He lifted our life to Heaven. No separation now exists between Heaven and earth. Jesus is the Way, the Door, the Go-between...
And so, in bursting back through the doors of the Throneroom of Heaven, in re-approaching His Father upon the throne, it was as if He carried all our hope, our certainty, our belief, under His arm. And, in retaking His seat next to the Father, in their shared smile of acknowledgment that "It is finished," it was as if Jesus hooked the arms of the Anchor of our Hope firmly around the legs of His throne...
Do you and I always have grounds for hope? Why, yes! We have our Friend, our Teacher, our Savior, alive, upon the very Throne of Heaven. Do you and I always have grounds for an audacious certainty in this life? Why, yes! Our hope is hooked like an anchor to Jesus Himself.
My friends, as we prepare to start another month, do you see Him there, watching you, loving you?
You and I never lack for anything - especially hope - when our hope is in this Man, a Man we know and love, a Man who is God, the One we know as Jesus.
I bet each of us has a pretty good idea of how "well" we can follow Jesus in our own daily, always-changing strength. For me, often, the results are middling at best.
But what I'm learning to want to see is what "Christ in me" (Col. 1:27) can do; to see all that I see happening in the New Testament happening in my midst. I simply desire to experience more of Him than more of my own fumbling attempts. I know what I can do. I haven't even begun to dream of what He can do.
From Hebrews 6: "It is our earnest wish that every one of you should show a similar keenness in fully grasping the hope that is within you. We do not want any of you to grow slack, but to follow the example of those who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises."
Notice that last turn of phrase: "who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises." Sometimes, personally, I wonder if I'm just "keeping the faith" to... keep the faith. The writer of Hebrews is talking about faith and promises that can be possessed... and not just in heaven when we die. We go on:
"When God made his promise to Abraham he swore by himself, for there was no one greater by whom he could swear, and he said: ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.' And then Abraham, after patient endurance, found the promise true."
But, you see, the difference between Abraham and us is that Abraham was promised a son from God while we, in receiving the Son of God, have now received all the promises. Father Abraham may have "had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham"... but you and I are sons and daughters of God.
Ephesians 1:4-6 - “…before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ — that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.”
That is not a series of future potential wishful thoughts; those are present, available promises that are your new-birthright. Those promises are who you are!
The importance of Jesus' dwelling both inside us and at the right hand of the Father is that He is constantly at work to make both sanctuaries the same. He is always working to bring the heavenly to life in your daily life. The ultimate stage for His "On earth as it is in heaven" experiment is your human heart.
"Let us leave behind the elementary teaching about Christ and go forward to adult understanding. Let us not lay over and over again the foundation truths — repentance from the deeds which led to death, believing in God, baptism and laying-on of hands, belief in the life to come and the final judgment. No, if God allows, let us go on." (Hebrews 6:1-3)
Following hard on the heels of Chapter 5's closing tongue-lashing, we now get this: A charge to stop, in the Church, always talking about the original stuff - and did you catch this? - the "original stuff" is essentially the Gospel! And let me say this too: If these three verses weren't set here in stone in the New Testament canon, there would be plenty of voices all too happy to say that this writer must be some kind of heretic.
But he's not. He simply knows that it is impossible to transact with the living Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and stay as you are, stay in the same conversations. Jesus is the Way. The Way is movement. We must move.
But we can read those verses and think - let's be honest: "But where are we supposed to go? What's next?"
Well, if we tweak every clause within those three verses and consider what might follow each aspect - sort of the inverse, converse, or contrapositive of each part - I think we get a pretty clear picture of what we're supposed to be after. Give it a read:
“Let us go toward the advanced teaching about Christ and leave behind the childish understanding. Let us build the house that rises from the foundation truths — accepting the holiness and deathlessness fully acquired at the hour of our repentance; believing God for the fullness of His promises, not just for our basic salvation; receiving our totally new life and living only from it; operating only in the power of the Holy Spirit, experiencing the life of Heaven now and not only after death; and living as those utterly free from judgment so that we might set about the rescue of those presently enwrapped by judgment. Yes, since God allows, let us stand firm.”
But we can read those words and think: "Yeah, but that sounds pretty intense, pretty costly; aren't I just as much a child of God if I just kinda stay put?"
But I want to give you an image that was given to me by a friend, years ago, of the difference we're talking about:
Imagine two sons of a king, one a man, one a little boy. Both are equally, deeply loved and cherished by their father; both sit with him at his banquet table as princes...
But when the enemy comes and lays siege to that castle, the little one is stowed away in a cupboard, and the older one is told, "Go put on your armor."
That's the difference we're talking about.
The question is: What kind of son do you want to be?
How would it change your perspective on the day's passing if this were your only goal: That every single person with whom you interacted left that interaction closer to Jesus?
"There is a great deal that we should like to say about this high priesthood [of Jesus], but it is not easy to explain to you since you seem so slow to grasp spiritual truth. At a time when you should be teaching others, you need teachers yourselves to repeat to you the ABC of God’s revelation to men. You have become people who need a milk diet and cannot face solid food! For anyone who continues to live on 'milk' is obviously immature — he simply has not grown up. 'Solid food' is only for the adult, that is, for the man who has developed by experience his power to discriminate between what is good and bad for him." Hebrews 5:11-14
Along these lines, can we ponder for a moment - have a candid little talk about - the nature of the Church, as we know it? In reality, most people identify "church" entirely with Sunday morning, with "services," with brick-and-mortar edifices down the street from their house. Perhaps, if they've lifted their gaze a little higher, they can move past those conceptions and talk about the worldwide Church, the unseen spiritual fellowship of all believers. Yet the word that Jesus used for "church" - I'm sure we've most of us heard it before - was ἐκκλησία, "ecclesia." And I want you to read what that word would've actually meant in the ears of the 1st Century Jews and Gentiles; this is from a book called The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries:
“To the Jew, the Ecclesia had been the assembly of the congregation of Israel, summoned to meet at the door of the Tabernacle of Jehovah by men blowing silver trumpets. To the Greek the Ecclesia was the sovereign assembly of the free Greek city-state, summoned by the herald blowing his horn through the streets of the town. To the followers of Jesus it was to be the congregation of the redeemed and therefore of the free, summoned by His heralds to continually appear in the presence of their Lord, who was always to be in the midst of them.”
And that's where I want to tie in to Hebrews 5:11-14. For Jesus to be present with us in a higher "We are the Body of Christ" sort of way, how many people do we think are truly necessary? 5,000? 1,000? 50? 12? Well, what did Jesus Himself say?
“For wherever two or three people come together in my name, I am there, right among you!” (Matthew 18:20)
Two or three! So anytime two or three of us - or more - are together, should not our quickest activity be a joint-realization of His present aliveness and activity in our midst? If even just two together can represent and embody the Body, we nearly never are not in the ἐκκλησία, are we?
So at what point do you and I suddenly think we need a teacher or pastor in this numbers' game; how quickly do we relegate "solid food" work to professionals, and to ourselves "milk"? Is it with congregations of 10, 20, 100, 500 - what is our own personal threshold? At what point do we think we know "enough" and, from there, allow another person to go "further" on our behalf?
Random question for you: Have you ever read any of Blaise Pascal's Pensees? Well, whether or not you have, consider this one - No. 149 - it's got some dark humor and zing on its meaning:
“We do not care about our reputation in towns where we are only passing through. But when we have to stay some time we do care. How much time does it take? A time proportionate to our vain and paltry existence.”
Do you see the point he's trying to make about our self-importance and self-perception? Well, in our present consideration, I'd rewrite his words like this:
"We do not need another teacher in situations where one, two, or a few, are gathered together. But when we meet at 'Church,' or in greater numbers, we suddenly do. How many people in a room does it take? A number inversely proportionate to our belief in the alive presence of Jesus."
Friends, in 1 John 2, John, the best friend and closest confidant of Jesus, writes to us:
“Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him.” (1 John 2:27)
If your favorite Christian writer stopped writing, if your pastor walked off the stage and called you up in his stead, what would you have to share for the good of the Body? My friends, because Jesus is alive and because He delights to reveal Himself to His followers, we should never not have anything to speak of Jesus. Truly, He gives Himself as "solid food" to all who ask. Are you asking? Do you want the more He's offering?
In J.B. Phillips' version of the three-servants parable in Matthew 25, the one who hid the money away comes before the master, explains himself, and concludes with: "Here is your money, intact." And it strikes me that that is the posture and highest hope for far too many Christians: "I just need to 'keep the faith' and stay intact."
Yet consider the way that the Apostle Paul must've hobbled into the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), having recently been beaten and stoned: broken, battered, teeth missing, scarred all over. Imagine if he, on that day, had then run into one of us modern, self-protective, "intact" Christians; he would've been perfectly justified in laughing, even scoffing.
Oh, that you and I might be willing to risk everything for the sake of our Savior and His Good News and simply abandon all thought of self-protection! Doesn't "intactness" seem a pitiful measurement in face of a One whose ministry on our behalf cost Him His blood, His everything, His life?
For years I've been struck by how, when Peter asks to be able to come out of the boat and walk on the water, Jesus only says to him, "ἐλθέ" - "Come" (Matthew 14:29).
The power of Jesus is just so potent that a single word of His command also contains the ability to carry out that command - whether it seems "impossible" to us or not.
Now that would be a way to live in belief this day!
While Paul was defending himself [in Caesarea before the governor and the King and Queen,] Festus burst out, “You are raving, Paul! All your learning has driven you mad!”
But Paul replied, “I am not mad, your excellency. I speak nothing but sober truth. The king knows of these matters, and I can speak freely before him. I cannot believe that any of these matters has escaped his notice, for it has been no hole-and-corner business. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? But I know that you believe them.”
“Much more of this, Paul,” returned Agrippa, “and you will be making me a Christian!”
“Ah,” returned Paul, “whether it means ‘much more’ or ‘only a little’, I would to God that both you and all who can hear me this day might stand where I stand — but without these chains." (Acts 26:24-29)
Do you catch the power of the radical, underlying presupposition that's contained in Paul's words there, "except for these chains"? He is literally saying to a king, a man raised in the household of the Caesar, "If you take off these chains, I'd rather be where I am than where you are."
That's the power of appropriating - possessing what's really ours - in the Kingdom, in the life, death, resurrection, ascension and indwelling of Jesus. It reminds me of Peter, back in Acts chapter 3: "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have" - what is his, what he possesses, what he's appropriated - "I give you: In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk!"
For this particular day: What do you possess of Jesus? What is firmly yours, whether you feel in-chains or out of chains?
When we speak of our life in Jesus with language of ebb and flow, we conjure up images of His love that make it seem as up-and-down as the daily tides. But His mercy, His love, His grace are an ocean; we should be up to our ears in them daily; they aren't just lapping at our ankles!
More, more! Deeper, deeper! Take us further in, Jesus!
In working through the beautiful pictures of the ties between Jesus and the historical High Priests in Hebrews 5, I was really stopped by the following:
"Note also that nobody chooses for himself the honor of being a High Priest, but he is called by God to the work, as was Aaron, the first High Priest in ancient times." (Hebrews 5:4)
So let's look for moment at how Aaron himself was chosen and set apart for this high, terrifying honor, back in Leviticus 8 & 9...
First off, Moses heard from the Lord and was told to call forth all the people - the ἐκκλησίασόν, "the Church called together at the trumpet's sound" - and to present Aaron and his sons before the people. Then Aaron was washed in water, dressed in the ceremonial garb, given the Urim and Thummim - representing the knowledge of the Will of God - and crowned with a crown of holiness. Then he was anointed with oil and sprinkled with blood in the process of laying his hands on the animal sacrifices offered for the people; then he was sent to live in the Tent of Meeting - the place of the Presence - for seven days straight. After which, in offering one great and final sacrifice, in full view of all the people again, "the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering... and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces." (Leviticus 9:23b,24)
In essence, the historical High Priest, a solitary human being serving his role for his generation, was the choice of God to be the gathering-point for the Church; washed, robed and empowered with the will of God; anointed with oil, crowned with holiness and sprinkled with the blood of the sin-offering; and the place upon which the fire and glory of God might drop so that all people, everywhere, might fall on their faces in the Presence...
Sound like Anyone Else we happen to know?!
There are five human senses that are our body's ways of interpreting the natural world around us. Yet more important for us is The Sense - the movements, voice and stirrings of the Holy Spirit - deep within our spirit.
He is not another way of interpreting outside natural phenomena. He is the life of Heaven impressing Himself supernaturally upon, from within, our human heart.
He is not involving us in some extra cause/effect relationship. He is the Cause and the Effect.
From A.B. Simpson's The Christ of the Forty Days - “Christ’s ascension was the exaltation of man to the right hand of God. It was as Man He entered heaven and sat upon His throne. It is as the Son of Man, with a human face and form, that He is sitting there today. It is in our behalf that He has gone up to God. He claims our place there, and keeps it till we come. What an honor to the once lost human race was the ascension of Christ! It was the entrance of a Man to the highest place in the heavenly world, with the first-fruits of this new race following in His train and taking a place with Him that angels could not claim. Lord, what is man that Thou hast set Thine heart upon him and so strangely redeemed and lifted him up for ever? Oh, let us rejoice and shout for joy as we see the Son of God ascend and write our names upon the seats of glory, as our Great Forerunner! God has recognized man’s right to enter heaven, to enter it as a King, to enter its highest place of dignity and blessing through the ascension of the Son of Man.”
And now consider the end of Revelation 3 in that light -
"As for the victorious, I will give him the honor of sitting beside me on my throne, just as I myself have won the victory and have taken my seat beside my Father on his throne."
Sometimes, our being silent is to speak. Always, our being silent allows Him opportunity to speak.
The Law told the people of God what they must not do.
The Way of Jesus tells us what we're now actually able to do - through Him.
The Law frustrated, and eventually cut off, most forward movement for fear of overstepping its outer bounds of propriety.
The Way of Jesus is only possible through a continual moving forward; a movement that is just like His own, because He now lives His life, all over again, in us and through us.
"The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness — the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the trouble. And, while Christ was actually taking upon himself the sins of men, God condemned that sinful nature. So that we are able to meet the Law’s requirements, so long as we are living no longer by the dictates of our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit." Romans 8:3,4
The end of the Law and the life of the Way are now - right now - today - this minute! - already alive within you because of the presence of His Holy Spirit. Thank you, Jesus!
"For he said: ‘So I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest’; not because the rest was not prepared—it had been ready since the work of creation was completed, as he says elsewhere in the scriptures, speaking of the seventh day of creation, ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.'
"And in the passage above he refers to 'my rest' as something already in existence. No, it is clear that some were intended to experience this rest and, since the previous hearers of the message failed to attain to it because they would not believe God, he proclaims a further opportunity when he says through David, many years later, 'today,' just as he had said 'today' before. ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'" (Hebrews 4:3b-7)
So what do these 4.5 verses really tell us about God's "rest"? Let's catalogue the statements down the line: "it has been ready since the work of creation was completed"; in fact, it was "already in existence" prior to that seventh day of existence's existence; "some [people] are intended to experience this rest," yet unbelief is the cause for "failing to attain it"; however, even today, in the ever-present "Today" spoken of by David, there is the "further opportunity" of still, this day, experiencing it.
And here's what strikes me most within these statements. If this "rest" was already existent before Creation, is it not perhaps part of the very nature of the Godhead, the Trinity, itself? Is abiding in this "rest" to experience the climate of Heaven? Is "rest" just another name for pure, true Abiding?
Well, just as whenever we have big deep questions about the realities of God, all we have to do to satisfy our curiosity is to look at Jesus, "the flawless expression of the nature of God" incarnate. And I love this quote from the story of James Fraser, a long-ago missionary to China, because I think it tells us everything we need to know of Jesus' restfulness:
“In the biography of our Lord nothing is more noticeable than the quiet, even poise of His life. Never ‘flustered’ whatever happened, never taken off His guard, however assailed by men or demons: in the midst of fickle people, hostile rulers, faithless disciples – always calm, always collected, Christ the hard worker indeed – but doing no more, and no less, than God had appointed Him; and with no restlessness, no hurry, no worry. Was ever such a peaceful life lived – under conditions so perturbing? … ‘We can afford, then, to work in the atmosphere of eternity,’ James [Fraser] said. ‘The rush and bustle of carnal activity breathes a spirit of restlessness; the Holy Spirit breathes a deep calm. This is the atmosphere in which we may expect a lasting work of God to grow.’” (From Mountain Rain)
So if this "rest" is of the essential-eternal nature of God, and if all the other statements so far in Hebrews 4 hold up, we are left with a three-component equation, a matter of equivalencies:
REST = ETERNITY = TODAY
Or, to draw it out a little: Since this "rest" is part of the atmosphere of Heaven, and the life and work of Heaven are necessarily eternal, our only human ability to interface with the eternal rest of God is in the construct of Today. The Eternal is Right Now.
For me, personally, it was eight years ago, this June, that I came to really, truly know this. And like so many wonderful revelations, it was as I was reading in the works of C.S. Lewis, specifically this time in Screwtape Letters, chapter 15. Let me just go ahead and give you the section that forever changed my life that day:
“The humans live in time but [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present – either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure…”
Friends, our only experience of eternity is happening right now, now, now, now, now, even as you're reading the sentence composed of these words. Yesterday is forever over and tomorrow is a non-reality. Today, with the promise of the eternal heavenly "rest" on-offer in Jesus, what do you say; what do you desire? I'm talking about something that's already yours - RIGHT NOW. Will you take and live what's already yours?
Abiding is the truest action of believing; it is the next step after we first "believe" - after we are indwelt by Him - of then going even further and starting to live our life "in" the One who now lives in us. We cannot abide without first believing. And we cannot continue to believe without abiding.
"Now since the same promise of 'rest' is offered to us today, let us be continually on our guard that none of us even looks like failing to attain it..." (Hebrews 4:1)
Fairly ominous sounding words, aren't they? Yet that warning idea - that "failing to attain it" - can also be translated as "be behind" or "late," "come after," as in second place, or "come too late." Which, all of them, for me, call to mind the imagery of a footrace, a marathon, where that top guy is just unreachable, unbeatable. Except, for us, who is our "top guy"?
Let's jump ahead a little and remind our hearts of the complexion of this particular race we're running:
"Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith." (Hebrews 12:1,2a)
Do you see Him there ahead of you, running hard, calling you closer? He is looking over His shoulder with a smile, even a laugh, beckoning you nearer, nearer as He runs with you toward the finish-line that is His eternal presence...
"...The crowd joined in the attack, and the magistrates had Paul and Silas stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. Then, after giving them a severe beating, they threw them into prison, instructing the jailer to keep them safe. On receiving such strict orders, he hustled them into the inner jail and fastened their feet securely in the stocks.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, big enough to shake the foundations of the prison. Immediately all the doors flew open and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the doors of the prison had been opened he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, for he imagined that all the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out to him at the top of his voice, “Don’t hurt yourself—we are all here!”
Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and trembling all over, fell at the feet of Paul and Silas.
He led them outside, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:22-30)
And, you see, this is what we're after. To so prove the living presence of the living Jesus in little lives like ours that people fall down on their knees, undone, at the glory of who He really is. No sermon can do that. No book. No Bible study. The world is dying - literally dying - to see the unfettered "sons of God coming into their own," like these men. The people around you would leave everything behind if only they could see how you possess what's already yours.
The power and unity of the whole worldwide Body of Christ begins with my own - and your own - accession to, and appropriation of, all the glorious things we're offered in personal Union with the living Jesus. Your inner life is the landscape of, the building-block toward, the showroom for, making the Church what it was intended to become.
But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Hebrews 3:6-11)
Those latter indented words are from Psalm 95 and are looking back at the Hebrews who had escaped from Egypt and then, in the wilderness, thought it in their best interest to begin doubting God. God, who had sent them Moses, who had performed signs and miracles, who had set them free, who had sent them forth with a huge bounty of gold and goods, who had crossed them through the Sea, who had destroyed their enemy, who had provided for them day-by-day, who had shown them His Glory - that God suddenly seemed to them less than trustworthy...
And it's funny how often I'll scoff at their ancient unbelief - like, "How could they not get it together?" - when let's consider for a moment our own reality as it pertains to His unbelievable power and promises - and our unbelief. God, who has sent us Jesus, who showed us the power of the Kingdom by performing signs and miracles, who set us forever free, who has sent us forth with the boundless riches of our heavenly inheritance, who has washed us in His own "sea" of blood, making us holy and blameless, who has destroyed the Enemy, who has provided for us every day of our lives, who has shown us His Glory in countless ways - that God we're not sure can accompany us through this particular workday...
In case you're missing my drift here, I'd say 90% of our lives we are those Israelites, wandering through the wilderness; we're just less obvious than them about our unbelief.
But, friends, what is actually on offer to us here? The answer frames those words from Psalm 95. What is the last word offered? "Rest." And the first word quoted from that psalm? "Today." This next glorious theme of Hebrews, the life we're actually meant to have, the experience those Israelites were meant to enjoy, is as follows: REST TODAY. The real heavenly trustful rest that Jesus intends for us - in Himself.
And so, what is the lynchpin command, tucked into Psalm 95, that is the necessary non-ingredient for learning to rest in Jesus today? "Do not harden your hearts..." ie. Allow no longer for a heart of stone, of doubt, of unbelief to lead your life. Be as gentle, and humble, and softhearted as was Jesus Himself - take on His heart - in the conduct of your everyday that is always "Today."
He is able, personally, to give you that heart. It's His. You actually need only ask - and then receive.
It's the nature of fire to either devour or die. Without something to burn, we'd never expect it to smolder on indefinitely.
The fire of the Holy Spirit must always be given more of ourselves to burn: more of our heart, our thoughts, our lives, our hopes, our dreams - all of us. When these are lit afire, He burns unrelentingly; others can actually see His ways alight in us. But if we refuse Him - if we will not ourselves burn - nothing at all happens.
"So then, my brothers in holiness who share the highest of all callings, I want you to think of the messenger and High Priest of the faith we hold, Christ Jesus." Hebrews 3:1
First things first, I think this first verse of this next chapter of Hebrews deserves a far more robust translation than it's given in any of the main versions of the NT (feel free to check for yourself!) because, really and truly, when fully heard in all its full meaning, it reads like a one-sentence guide to everything we need to do and focus on. So here we go:
"Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, observe well (meaning grasp) the Apostle and High Priest of our agreement (our vow, our surrender), Jesus."
As you start this morning, let me ask you: Have you personally accepted the holiness already purchased for you by the blood of the Cross; are you a partaker of the heavenly calling, a real bon vivant of what's yours there; have you watched, and tasted, and smelled, and grasped of the goodness of our Apostle and High Priest; has your "agreement" to all this moved past intellectual assent into the realm of vow, of absolute surrender to Jesus Himself?
Me, I love that word "surrender" as a synonym for what we think of as faith or belief. Because - have you not yourself found? - that oftentimes to cease to do is actually to begin to believe...